In brief: Everybody's favorite love-to-hate space sim, Star Citizen, is still undergoing active, expensive development. Just last year, the game managed to hit $300 million in revenue from crowdfunding alone. You might expect that growth to slow, but it has continued to skyrocket. As of writing, the highly ambitious sim has raised an astonishing $404.7 million from ship and cosmetic sales, direct pledges, and more.
That's a massive sum for any game, let alone a mostly-crowdfunded project with total creative independence on the part of developer Cloud Imperium Games (CIG). Unfortunately, Star Citizen's tremendous financial success has also led to plenty of controversies for the studio.
Over the years, many players have accused the game of being a scam for failing to release despite 10 years of full production. Even those that enjoy the game will acknowledge that it's buggy and missing many features.
However, in spite of all the negativity, CIG continues to forge ahead on Star Citizen and publish regular development blogs and progress updates. The game also has a "progress tracker" roadmap, which seems to detail work allocation up until Q3 2023.
Just by taking one look at said roadmap, it's absolutely no surprise to me that the game has already taken 10 years to develop, without a clear end in sight. The sheer volume of features and the level of graphical and audio fidelity CIG is looking to implement boggles the mind. One feature, called "Salvage T0," is tentatively scheduled for release in Q2 2022 -- it seeks to let players strip and repair their ships by hand.
Another feature, confirmed for release this quarter, will overhaul the game's physics engine, and yet another will allow players to traverse their environment in zero-g using just their hands to push and pull themselves about.
Whether you believe CIG can actually deliver all of its promised features or not, it's clear that the studio is keen to keep working until the money runs out. Judging by the game's decade-long history, we don't expect that to happen anytime soon. As we've pointed out in the past, the studio is somehow able to sell ships and ship packs that easily cost hundreds of dollars. Indeed, the UEE Exploration 2950 "Package" comes in at $1,100 and is the only way to obtain the "Anvil Carrack" vessel.
Regardless, I am still rooting for the game to succeed. While I will not be buying it myself, and wouldn't necessarily advise others to do so, if CIG is able to achieve its dream, that can only be a good thing for consumers. Hopefully, it won't take another ten years, though.
If you'd like to see how far along the team is, there's some good news. Until December 1, you can try out Star Citizen for free as part of its latest "Free Fly" period. These events happen pretty often, so if you miss the boat this time, don't fret.